Big week for NFL, Rams, Raiders, Chargers

As NFL owners gather this week in San Francisco for their annual May meetings, and with Los Angeles relocation one of the primary points of emphasis, news is already beginning to bubble to the surface.

In San Diego, the word I’m getting is Mayor Kevin Faulconer’s advisory committee is preparing to announce a stadium plan for the Chargers, perhaps as early as Monday afternoon.

I’ve heard from a couple of sources the number $1.5 billion dollars being bandied about, and if that’s accurate it will be interesting to see how much of that $1.5 billion is devoted to the stadium and how much is committed to the bigger picture aspects of the Mission Valley development plan.

It will also be interesting to find out what the task force plan is to deal with the financing and timing issues, two huge concerns relative the the Chargers and NFL.

If the stadium is part of a bigger development, that means a lengthy entitlement process and financing elements of which the Chargers and NFL have expressed long-time concerns.

Between the time consuming entitlement process and the necessity for a public vote next year – and no guarantee of a favorable outcome – the Chargers would be taking a huge gamble it all plays out in their favor.

The danger is the St. Louis Rams filing for relocation to Los Angeles sometime in the next six months – and getting NFL approval – resulting in the Chargers stadium plans in Carson falling by the wayside and Los Angeles vanishing as a fall-back plan.

For San Diego Chargers fans, the hope is Mayor Faulconer’s task force heeded the advice of NFL vice president Eric Grubman, who met with some members last month and urged them to come up with a plan that meets the Chargers and NFL’s financing and timing needs.

Otherwise, San Diego is in great danger of losing the Chargers.

Meanwhile, up in Oakland things are looking bleaker by the day. According to a story in the San Francisco Chronicle, “the deal to build the Raiders a new stadium in Oakland “is gurgling blood” — the only question being when it’s going to be declared dead, according to one Coliseum official close to the talks.

Three big problems stand in the way, according to the Chronicle story: “The cost of the stadium, the cost of the land for the stadium and the future of the A’s.”

According to a Chronicle source who spoke on the condition of anonymity, the Raiders want free land,something elected officials in Oakland and Alameda County say they can’t deliver.

As for the money for the stadium, “the Raiders and the NFL have about $500 million between them,” the source told the Chronicle.

That’s about half what the stadium is likely to cost. So barring the emergence of big-bucks investors, someone — i.e., the public — will have to come up with a cool $500 million.

If, as the Chronicle story suggests, the Raiders are in a non-winnable fight as it relates to the current plan being considered, they are as vulnerable as the Chargers.

And that creates a huge problem for the NFL, as it seems Rams owner Stan Kroenke has his heart set on Los Angeles and believes he has strong justification for relocation even if state leaders in Missouri come up with a plan to help build him a new stadium in downtown St. Louis.

If Kroenke truly wants Los Angeles, no matter what Missouri offers, and the Raiders and Chargers have no viable stadium plans on the table from Oakland and San Diego, how does the NFL sort out the dilemma of two teams needing Los Angeles and one team wanting Los Angeles?

And what happens to the hopes of Los Angeles NFL fans for the return
of pro football if the entire situation devolves into a standoff, with the Chargers and Raiders mustering the votes of seven other owners to prevent Kroenke from achieving the three-fourths majority he needs to relocate?

At the risk of being an alarmist, that almost seems bound to happen.

And it leave fans and analysts and even people involved coming up with ideas to piece together a complicated puzzle.

Everything from the Kroenke selling the Rams and buying the Raiders to the Rams moving to Inglewood, where they will be joined by the Chargers, and the Raiders moving into the new St. Louis stadium.

In fact, just the other day St. Louis stadium task force head Dave Peacock threw out the possibility of an ownership change with the Rams that enables Kroenke to get his wish.

While speaking at a Commercial Real Estate Women of St. Louis breakfast, Peacock said the following:

“It’s possible we have different ownership of the (Rams) because I think (Kroenke) is really committed to Los Angeles. I’m not against Stan going to Los Angeles, I just don’t want our team there. This is why we’re spending most of our time with the league — we think this is an NFL issue.”

A few thoughts.

After doing some poking around here is how I’d categorize some of the possibilities being discussed:

Kroenke selling the Rams and buying another team to move to L.A.: Low.

The Raiders moving to St. Louis: Extremely low.

The Chargers and Raiders in Carson: Decent chance

The Rams and a fellow team in Inglewood: High

The Raiders moving to Levi Stadium: Extremely low

The Rams staying in St. Louis: Low

San Diego coming up with a viable Chargers stadium: Low

Oakland/Alameda coming up with a viable Raiders stadium: Low

However, I will say all of this is a reminder of all possible permutations and outcomes still at play.

Short of this situation figuring itself out naturally, which I’m growing more and more pessimistic of, the NFL and the teams involved will have to get creative and flexible in satisfying everyone’s needs and wants.

To that end, I’m working on a story that forwards some ideas on how the NFL might solve the Rams and Chargers needs and keep the Raiders in the Bay Area, which should be ready to roll next week.

So stay tuned.

With Rams eyeing Los Angeles, their game-plan comes into focus

As we continue to sort through potential Los Angeles NFL relocation, one of the most persistent questions is how St. Louis Rams owner Stan Kroenke can justify a move a proposed Inglewood stadium should state leaders in Missouri come up with $400 million in public money to help build him a brand new stadium along the banks of the Mississippi River.

It’s a valid question on a couple of different levels, especially when you factor in the needs of the San Diego Chargers and Oakland Raiders, who have joined forces to build a stadium in Carson as a back-up plan if stadium deals don’t materialize in their local markets.

If, say, Missouri comes up with the money and San Diego and Oakland don’t deliver stadium plans for the Chargers and Raiders, how can Kroenke show cause to fellow NFL owners for relation?

Any eventual move to Los Angeles will come down to a vote by NFL owners, who will use the L.A. NFL relocation guidelines as a compass. Should Kroenke or anyone else file or relocation, they’ll need 24 yes votes from the league’s 32 owners.

After poking around St. Louis last week, the Rams case for relocation began coming into focus. I have to stress there doesn’t appear to be a final decision yet made by the Rams, who will likely wait until Missouri leaders present their stadium plan before deciding what they will do.

However, if relocation is the decision, expect the Rams to stake their case on two arguments, which I wrote about today after spending a few days in St. Louis. 

Their plan will rely heavily on part of the premise upon which they left Los Angeles for St. Louis 20 years ago – the lease clause that allowed them to become free agents after the 2015 season if the Edward Jones Dome wasn’t among the top-tier stadiums in the NFL.

Thanks to that out-clause – and St. Louis opting not to pay the $700 million an arbitrator ruled was needed to upgrade the Edward Jones Dome – the Rams are legally free agents no longer bound to a specific market.

Therefor, they aren’t just free to compare any deal from St. Louis with the stadium they are contemplating in Inglewood, they are free to pick one over the other.

The argument is strengthened by stressing the importance of the NFL nailing a gold-medal landing upon returning to Los Angeles.

And what better way to ensure success than making a seamless transition in which the Rams return to the city they called home for 49 years to play in a sparkling new stadium financed by a multi-billionaire owner?

In addition, their Inglewood stadium has provisions to add another team. So, if one of the Chargers or Raiders need a new home, the Rams can tell the NFL they can help the league achieve two objectives.

Help Insure a successful return to Los Angeles while also offering a new, financially vibrant home to a team in need.

Again, it’s important to stress the Rams have not yet decided on a final game-plan and that NFL owners will ultimately decided where all this ends up.

But if you are wondering how the Rams can make a case for turning down $400 million in public money to move to Los Angeles, that will be the crux of their argument.

Stan Kroenke’s heart in Los Angeles, according to Dave Peacock

Even as Dave Peacock continues to chip away at a stadium plan intended to keep the Rams in St. Louis, he is sensing Rams’ owner Stan Kroenke has his eyes set on Los Angeles.

Peacock is part of Missouri Governor Jay Nixon’s two-man task force in charge of coming up with a stadium plan, but he openly admitted Tuesday the stadium might eventually be the home for another team – or at least another owner.

“It’s possible we have different ownership of the (Rams) because I think (Kroenke) is really committed to Los Angeles,” Peacock said while speaking at a Commercial Real Estate Women of St. Louis breakfast. “I’m not against Stan going to Los Angeles, I just don’t want our team there… This is why we’re spending most of our time with the league — we think this is an NFL issue.”

Among other issues Peacock touched on Tuesday, he said he thinks NFL owners will vote on whether to allow a team to move to Los Angeles in December.